Microsoft Excel is easily one of the most popular spreadsheet applications that users have been using for years. Typically, Excel supports mainly two types of data that includes, texts and numbers or static information that needs to be updated manually (or with formulas) in each cell of the grid. However, the Microsoft Excel is now adding a new feature that would allow users to import their own data as a custom data type - in a bid to add more complex information. The company says that users can now add “live" data types about stocks, currencies, cities, and countries in a single cell, therefore eliminating the need to update information manually every time.
One of the advantages of live custom data types into Microsoft Excel includes the reduction in inaccurate data that earlier persisted while adding information manually. Microsoft in a blog post claims that until now, Excel grid has been “flat," but with new features, one cell on the spreadsheet can “contain a deep collection of hierarchical data." The company adds that customers of Microsoft Power BI, its data visualisation and business intelligence service, will able to publish live data on Excel seamlessly.
For instance, a user who has a system for tracking customers, and want to bring that customer data into Excel for analysis, can import as a “richly structured customer data type," created using tools like Power BI. “If you don’t have Power BI, you can still leverage the Power Query technology in Excel to manually connect to dozens of different types of data sources, and specify that you want the data to be structured as a data type," Microsoft explained. To import data into the spreadsheet, users will have the option to transform the data into a data type. In case users are using Power Query, they can create their very own custom data type by using any source of organisation data available within the Get Data menu —files, databases, online services, and so on.
Additionally, Microsoft says that company is also working on more than 100 pre-configured data types on Excel, powered by knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha. These data types will be complemented by a new set of smart templates that would enable users to quickly create data types to track nutritional information, colleges research data, and more.
In terms of availability of the live data for Excel, Power BI data type will be available for those who have a Power BI Pro service plan. Whereas, Power Query data types are currently rolling out and will be available in the coming weeks for all Microsoft 365/ Office 365 subscribers. Microsoft says that Wolfram Alpha data types are available for preview to Office Insiders. Over the years, Excel has received support for new data types including dynamic arrays and array formulas as well as support for Stocks and Geography data types via Bing.